Conservation Journal: Alex

The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) is an AmeriCorps service program that develops skills and experiences for conservation professionals. LRCC members are the driving force behind the Squam Lakes Association’s conservation efforts. The program provides hands-on conservation work experience and numerous certifications over a broad range of areas, which ensures that LRCC members are capable of independently approaching a variety of tasks in the environmental conservation field. Members remove invasive species from the Squam watershed, manage and act as caretakers at our backcountry campsites, maintain the SLA’s 50+ miles of trails, educate the public on local and regional conservation initiatives, spearhead reports on conservation efforts, lead SLA volunteer crews and ensure the daily functioning of the Squam Lakes Association’s programs. Click here to learn more about the LRCC program.

Alex Reiber

March 15, 2019

It is 8:00 AM in the great room at SLA headquarters. The sun is shining on this peaceful Monday morning, and across the cove from where I stand, white pines are gently swaying in the breeze. Aside from the growl of an electric teapot and the occasional call of a black-capped chickadee, the morning is quiet and still. But it wouldn’t remain this way for long. In just a few short moments, total chaos is about to ensue. Today is the first day of Winter Adventure Camp.

In roughly thirty minutes the flood gates would open, and swarms of children would break through the door screaming and doing Fortnite dances. Stevie and I would be swallowed alive as we were engulfed by a tidal wave of campers. I snap out of my daydream as the first camper and her parents walk through the door. The rest begin to trickle in and as everyone is getting signed in, I begin to realize that today was not going to be my demise.

To begin the camp experience, Stevie and I helped the campers to create wooden necklaces that served as nametags and journals for them to reflect on their experience at the end of each day. Some of the campers went all out and, in addition to their nametags and journals, created works of art on par with those of Picasso or Van Gogh.  Others created necklaces not only for themselves, but for their entire family, including the dog.

After wiping Elmer’s glue off nearly every conceivable surface in the great room, it was time for an ice safety lesson with Cole. We suited up and outfitted everyone with a life jacket and ice picks before heading down to the cove. Some of these kids had never been on a frozen body of water before, so it was fun to see their eyes light up as we ventured out onto the ice.

We split into two teams and, using hand augers, raced to drill through the frozen sheet beneath us. The ice ended up being about a foot and a half deep, enough to wear out fourth graders and camp counselors alike. We then asked the kids how thick they thought the ice would need to be to support different objects such as a snowmobile or truck. Some of the kids were surprised to hear that the ice doesn’t need to be 100 feet thick to support a truck, but rather a single foot is considered “safe”.

I use parenthesis with the word safe because the thickness and strength of ice can be quite unpredictable. While the ice may be thick enough to support a truck in one area, just a few feet away it could crack under the weight of a person. And this bizarre occurrence is all the more possible in the cove behind our building, where large rocks and underwater currents cause variability in the thickness of the ice.

Although I had no intention of doing so, I demonstrated this point as I walked out farther onto the ice to referee the next game. I took a step and felt the ice start to give way under my foot and the next thing I knew I was pulling my wet leg and water-filled boot from the water. Everyone was immediately rushed back on to shore and we took the opportunity to solidify the day’s lesson: that the ice is never 100% safe. My unintentional demonstration highlighted the exact reason why these trainings are important.

This five-day winter camp was the first of its kind for the SLA, a prototype if you will. And even though I walked away with a boot full of water, I believe it was a success. The kids really seemed to enjoy themselves and on the last day they even made us a thank you card. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself too. They were a great group of kids and it was a lot of fun teaching them and helping them to deepen their appreciation for mother nature and the outdoors.

I’ve heard a quote somewhere about how the world is in the hands of our children, and I believe that statement is true. Although this camp was only a five-day endeavor, it played a role in developing the next generation of stewards and conservationists, which will have a lifelong impact. With children who appreciate the outdoors and hold natural beauty in high regard, the protection of the Squam watershed will continue for years to come.

Traits we admire in Alex are his flexibility, attention to detail, work ethic, and extraordinarily caring spirit.  You can read more about Alex here



Join our LRCC members for weekly guided hikes, volunteer opportunities, and environmental programs. Learn more by clicking here.